Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards and Democratic Legitimacy
17 March 2014
15:00 to 19:00
Haldane Room, Wolfson College, Linton Rd, Oxford
This debate will address the controversy surrounding the use of quotas as a legal mechanism to address gender inequality in corporate boards of directors.
Much of the public and scholarly debate on the issue has focused on the business and equal opportunity justifications for using quotas to increase the proportion of women on corporate boards. This workshop seeks to highlight and explore the more complex and innovative democratic legitimacy justification, which contends that democracy demands that men and women should be represented in equal numbers on the boards of influential companies.
The workshop will address the following questions:
- To what degree is the extension of the democratic legitimacy argument to the corporate context justifiable?
- Does the argument’s validity depend upon a strong corporatist tradition, wherein corporations exercise state power?
- Does the democratic legitimacy argument necessarily partake in gender essentialism and stereotypes (only women can truly represent other women)?
- Does the European Union’s failure to implement a regional quota represent the failure of the democratic legitimacy argument?
The workshop will be of interest to all those working on gender inequality, democracy, corporate governance, and comparative law.
Jude Browne, Jessica and Peter Frankopan Director of Gender Studies, University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies
Julie C. Suk, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York
Mari Teigen, Research Director, Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway
I soon realised that unless we had targets, if not quotas, there was no way to make headway
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, speaking at a World Economic Forum debate on gender quotas